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December 31, 2021

Game simulates the ongoing challenges of poverty

Sometimes, all it takes is one life-changing experience to land someone on the streets: a job loss, the death of a loved one, divorce, or some natural disaster.

CoinThat's the underlying message of Spent, an online point-and-click game game in which players are asked to make tough decisions while earning minimum wages, like those often found in retailing or fast food. 

The game was created by ad agency McKinney for pro bono client Urban Ministries of Durham to highlight the challenges and tradeoffs faced by low-income earners trying to break out of the poverty cycle.

The dilemmas in the game are based on real-life experiences of people served by UMD, which maintains a homeless shelter and outreach program for the disenfranchised.

Say you've been stripped of your savings and are given $1,000 to live on for one month. The goal is to end the month with some money left over. How would you cope? Where would you go? What would you do?

It really seems next to impossible. The expenses rack up as users make choices on everything from housing to healthcare to unforeseen life circumstances like broken down cars and sick kids. 

While everyone faces either/or financial decisions, they generally aren't so dire. Have you ever lived that close to the edge? Have things improved? 

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...